This week in retrospect – the beautiful and the ugly

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Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver. And our world could stand to be a little kinder and braver. Brene Brown.

Social media showcases the extremes in people’s behaviour and values and the extremes can be both very beautiful and inspiring  and very ugly and depressing.

Senator Penny Wong modelled beautiful and inspiring  this week when she said this about the rescue mission in Thailand

“Isn’t it just wonderful news, and what a wonderful relief for parents, particularly for family and friends,” Senator Wong said.

“But can I say this? In a world where we see a lot of bad news, a lot of tragedy, isn’t it wonderful to see the power of co-operation and the lengths people will go to, the courage people will show, to help a fellow human being, and I think it is a cause for inspiration and optimism.” Source The Australian

She retweeted this beautiful tribute to Former Thai navy seal Saman Guana who died at Tham Luang cave.

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and then there is this. What can I say beyond this that its  #NASTY #ABHORRENT #UNNECESSARY #POORTASTE

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and then I read about Steve Parish .  Wildlife photographer Steve Parish went from mansion to shed, but has found a new focus. His photos have always wowed me. Now his new ethos inspires me. Steve says it’s important to work on yourself to become a great photographer.

“You need to do more work on yourself than on your creative skills — you really need to know who you are and where you want to go with your photography,” he said.

“If you want to bring some sort of refocus to humanity, then you are already successful, but if you go along the path of ‘look at me’, you will just be one of 1.6 billion people uploading to social media everyday … and best of luck to you. We all really need to be in charge of our own joy.”

I am keen to be in charge of my own joy and encouraging a culture of people being kind to each other.

 

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Rudderless Dairy – makes my heart bleed

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Marian McDonald was a gusty woman when she took on the family farm in 2008. She bought a refreshing feistiness to dairy conversations. She is a champion of the grass roots, is not afraid to tackle the tough issues in her blog MilkMaid Marian, she asks the questions that need to be asked of people who should have the answers and she has the courage of her convictions

Today she gives her thoughts on John Mulvaney’s opinion piece in The Weekly Times in her post Disillusioned Dairy  

Mike Logan the former CEO of Dairy Connect also reflected on the state of the Australian Dairy Industry in Nov last year in his opinion piece Australian Dairy has Lost its Rudder.

Mike says

The leadership challenge of the Australian dairy industry has increased to a level that I believe is insurmountable without significant government intervention. I am not a supporter of government intervention.

Unfortunately, the time has come.

…..

The hubris of the board and senior executives of MG ( Murray Goulburn) has left the Victorian dairy industry – and by association, the Australian dairy industry – without a guiding rudder. The Victorians are at sea and going nowhere and are hoping for tides or winds to take them.

….

Put simply, the end of the era of co-operatives has allowed the processors to control the industry. Presently, there is no unity between the farmers and the processors. Many will blame the supermarkets but the numbers don’t support that view. It is not Colesworth.

The leadership challenge is within the industry itself. Specifically, the leadership challenge is with the farm sector of the dairy industry.

…….

The ship is at sea, rudderless.

It is tawdry to note that the current Chairman of the ADF is also an ex-chairman and I believe a current Director of WCB. Another Director is from Fonterra. Most of the ADF’s budget is channelled through the processors. Clearly, the processors control the farmer’s representative body.

Mike comes from an industry with a highly successful farmer leadership lobby model in Cotton Australia. As a former Chairman of the Board of the Cotton Research and Development Corporation he bought a breath of fresh air, a wealth of experience and drive and like Marian feistiness to the dairy industry.

In his opinion piece Mike proffers the following solutions

What should the ADF do?

The ADF is the focal point of the leadership challenge. The ADF needs to reform itself into a functional & efficient dairy farmer representative body.

What should the Government do?

The government is rightly reluctant to interfere in industry policy and strategy. Governments all hope to be guided by an industry with a unified approach to the challenges of the future. When governments are forced into these positions they usually deliver blunt and inelegant solutions. Often, there are deleterious impacts from the unintended consequences of government interference in industry policy.

The Government is now at a point where it has to assume that role. The government has to free up the relationship between the farmers and the processors by addressing the focal point of the relationship – the contracts.

You can read the full piece here  It makes one hell of a lot of sense

My thoughts on farmer leadership in dairy?

As some-one who did put their hand up for roles on farmer lobby groups I agree with Marian. We wear out our champions. The majority of us are under-prepared from a governance, negotiation skills and general whole of supply chain knowledge capacity to make the changes required.  I was one of those under-prepared. ADF has some fresh blood and now has funding to build leadership capacity for our farmers. I look forward to them using it wisely. I look forward to our farmers seeking out the successful models, asking the right questions, being prepared to listen and feeling confident they have the skills and the support of their fellow farmers to take the Australian Dairy Industry to the heights it deserves

Added note. Another hugely successful farmer lobby group model is Farmers for Climate Action I know why this model works so well. It would be a very exciting day if  Australian dairy farmers embraced this model. Look out world

 

 

“Showgirl” – when we ask ourselves what do we hold dear – the outcome or the moniker?

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The Land Showgirl Competition means so much to many young women in agriculture I work with.  Yet is struggles to gain the respect it deserves. Others ask is the name “Showgirl” doing the competition more harm than good? My take is the competition is very relevant – the name no longer

Excellent work WinNews with this coverage.

Showgirls have been a staple at the Sydney Royal Easter Show since 1962; however, questions have been raised as to whether the competition is relevant in today’s society. We follow one Showgirl’s journey from paddock to podium to find out.

Australian agriculture is full to the brim with exciting young people

Never in my life have I been so proud to pass the ball, exchange the baton, give a voice to NextGen as I was when the Australian Farm Institute invited me to speak at their Roundtable in 2017 as the day I passed the baton to Young Farming Champion Dione Howard. Five minutes is a very short time to get your message across. Let alone do it with so much power.

It is such a ridiculous furphy that Australian agriculture is seen and promoted as a sunset industry full of old grey haired men. Dione is just one example of the 1000’s of exciting and dynamic young people in the agriculture sector. Time to celebrate Sunrise. This report is just a drop in the ocean of exciting young people who see agriculture as their future.

#strongertogether #youthvoices18   #youthinag

The Land – objectifying women in agriculture as breeding stock is not 21st Century thinking

The Power of the Blog – so pleased to see The Land step up and update their article post my original blog.

Nikki is a very worthy winner and The Land’s updated post now shares with the world her values and her willingness to develop her skills to benefit her community. Look forward to the full story in this week’s Land

 

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#strongwomen #strongertogether

People forgive but they rarely forget

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Forgiving someone is easy, but being able to trust them again is a totally different story

As Malcolm Turnbull prepares his apology to the survivors of Sexual Abuse   I had a stark reminder of how the pain never goes away

When the CSIRO removed this stunning time lapse video of a cotton boll opening from their website I loaded it on ours

Yesterday this comment appeared

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I am confident you will agree forgiving and forgetting is great in theory, but in reality it’s difficult. Lets not beat ourselves up if we don’t achieve both.  Forgiving allows us to move on but we don’t forget either, so we can take the valuable life lessons with us.

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Turning the anti-bullying conversation around

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You can find this poster here

When we use the word anti-bullying, we are articulating what we don’t want. So in this instance I ask the question … what do we want?

The counter position to bullying is lost in the current conversations, which is the opportunity to recognise preferred behaviour.

It’s easy to be against and say no .. more difficult to be for and say yes
May be it’s time we got clear and created a turnaround in the conversation?

This above quote is an extract of a comment from reader Andrew on my post Is the Mean Mob Mentality Out Of Control.  See footnote

I am confident we will all agree that Andrew makes a very valid point

When you Google ‘Modelling Anti-Bullying Behaviour’ Google Scholar offers a plethora of articles 

Social science research tells us if we craft the message that signals preferred behaviour we get preferred behaviour.

Using an example I saw at boys school I visited in 2016. The sign in the foyer said “65% of men and boys interviewed think domestic violence occurs”

The social scientists tell us this sign models negative behaviour. The ideal sign would say “100% of men think domestic violence is wrong.”

Clearly the image at the top of the post is a great example of modelling preferred behaviour. See article here

Love other readers thoughts on how we rise to challenge that Andrew has posed

Footnote

Andrew’s comment on the original blog

Where I’m coming from is contrarian to many, so please read to the end.
This is not a criticism of what’s happening in general or the posts and comments here.

In grappling with the issue we are faced with in relation to personal attacks in social and mainstream media we need to call out bullying for what it is, and those carrying out that behaviour need to be held to account.

At this time I’m reminded of Sister Teresa of Calcutta.
She was asked to attend an “anti-war” rally, where the proponents would have obviously used her presence to leverage the PR.
Sister Teresa’s response was if you can explain to me what you are for, I’ll consider it.

When we use the word anti-bullying, we are articulating what we don’t want. So in this instance I ask the question … what do we want?

Using Sister Teresa’s framework … if we are anti bullying, what are we for?

The counter position to bullying is lost in the current conversations, which is the opportunity to recognise preferred behaviour.

We know what we don’t want but, have difficulty articulating what we do want.
When training dogs, we reward positive behaviour for the obvious reason, with young children we do the same when it comes to behaviours. Or we should.

So what behaviour do we wish to recognise as it applies to social and mainstream media behaviour?
It’s easy to be against and say no .. more difficult to be for and say yes
May be it’s time we got clear and created a turnaround in the conversation?

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Do our politicians care about us?

Its pretty easy  to think about the world and be cynical. I know at my age I can certainly write a list of the people who have let me down.

But we all know selling despair, ruminating  on the people you wished hadn’t crossed your path and on what could have been gets us nowhere. On the other hand selling hope and focusing on a bright future by engaging and working with the people who share your vision keeps the fire burning in our bellies

I keep the fire burning in my belly by surrounding myself with exciting young people. Young people in schools, young farmers and young activists for social and environmental justice .

Last Friday night  I attended the NSW ACT Young Achiever Awards to support Young Farming Champions Anika Molesworth and Joshua Gilbert who were both finalists in the Environment and Sustainability Category   

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Anika Molesworth Winner of  the Environment and Sustainability Award

Millennials and the generation before them don’t exactly  get the best wrap and are often described as self absorbed .  Reading the bios of the finalists in all categories  certainly drew everyone’s attention to a group of young people and their support networks who are turning  the self absorbed label on its head.

Why theses young people do what they do  and how they do it is both fascinating and inspiring.   Last year’s winner in the opening speech said something that gave me food for serious reflection. This young lady is a very passionate member of AYCC who lobbied their peers to sign up and vote at the last election. She quoted some phenomenal numbers as a testimony to their success.

She expressed her motivation by saying  something along the lines of “politicians don’t care about young people and young people don’t care about politicians”. She went on to say part of the mission of AYCC is to show young people how important it is to care about politicians and what they do and don’t stand for and to vote for the one’s that align with their values

Do politicians care about young people.? Do they care about us?  I think they do but I can certainly understand why people in general wonder what they do stand for. How do we fix a system where it appears that too many of our politicians only care about the needs of big business and the powerful people and not enough about the quality of life and well being of everyday Australians?.

AYCC have got it right. It’s up to everyday Australians to hold our politicians accountable and that starts with making sure we have the right politicians in office and support fiercely the one’s who align with our values.

Congratulations to Anika Molesworth, a fierce campaigner for #youthinag and the viability  and resilience of Australian farmers and social and environmental justice

Anika’s acceptance speech – its easy to see why she is in demand as a keynote speaker 

 

 

Happy hens – a question of ethics

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I recently read The Circle which I note is being released as a movie later this year. You can find Margaret Attwood’s review of the book here  .

I am also watching ‘Continuum” on Netflix – not exactly riveting television but definitely  some very interesting reflections on ethics and what the future could look like depending on the decisions we make in the here and now .

“Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.” …… Alice Walker

We are being asked to make many of the decisions now that are being played out in The Circle and Continuum and in movies like Eye in the Sky 

The Happy Hens caged egg scenario is the current example. Its a tough world out there for the hen whether she lives in a cage, a barn or gets to graze on pasture.

Life is risky for her.Being in the situation where I do know the stats – there are genuine reasons to house hens in cages – lets not beat up the farmers who do this well.

Are caged hens happy – would you be happy living in a cage?. Your kidding you say yet lots of us do live in “cages” in fact we probably all do, some more than others.

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Too many humans live in cages like structures in our modern world 

We have many restrictions on our everyday lives and everyday those restrictions increase and others are making our decisions for us.

For me its time to stop demonising the farmer and the system and get comfortable about the choices we make everyday. Most of the time there are no right and wrong choices just the best choices at that point in time.

The future isn’t a place we just get to go – it is a place we get to create.  Together.

Little vs Big Agriculture – are objective views lacking??

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Foodies I need help.

The Picture You in Agriculture team has paired up with the Intrepid Landcare tribe to create and deliver a program that builds on the success of the Art4agriculture initiatives – The Archibull Prize and the Young Farming Champions to help young people in schools get their heads around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and take local action

Schools participating in the Kreative Koalas program ( note landing page only at this stage)  will partner with Young Sustainability Ambassadors (Expressions of Interest open here  ) and investigate and reflect on seven of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

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We are finding ‘Responsible Production’ tricky. Coming from generations of primary producers that these days would be seen as Big Agriculture, my mission is to show the Little vs Big Agriculture story is not a binary argument – Good vs Bad or Romantic vs Reality or Sustainable vs Non-Sustainable or Non-Sustainable vs Sustainable but a continuum. I am looking for objective views and some great cases studies on both Little and Big Ag.

Landline is an obvious choice for content but no-one has yet identified OZ food bloggers/journalists of the likes of  Tom Philpot from Mother Jones, Nathanael Johnson from Grist  and  Helena Evich from Politico for me

Do we have food journalists that write level-headed assessments of Australian agricultural systems in plain English?  If the answer is yes – please share them with me

HT Richard Heath and Dr Heather Bray